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A George V Committee of Imperial Defence Despatch Box, 1911
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A George V Committee of Imperial Defence Despatch Box, 1911

Measurements: 9cm (3.5in) x 29cm (11.5in) x 19cm (7.5in)

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Following the 1860’s design of a ministerial despatch box, the present example is constructed to smaller dimensions. Made from pine and covered in stained ram’s skin, the hinged lid is embossed with the cypher of George V and the title ‘Committee of Imperial Defence’; security features include a Peck lock and key, and brass end handle to ensure that the box is locked before being carried; the interior stamped with the maker’s details of  John Peck & Son, Nelson Square, Blackfriars, Manufacturers to H.M. Stationery Office.

The Committee of Imperial Defence (C.I.D.) was set up in 1902 and evolved as a defence planning agency for the Empire. Chaired by the Prime Minister, members were usually cabinet ministers, service chiefs, and key civil servants. Its concerns were naval and military research and elements of co-ordination between the services. Typically, a temporary sub-committee would be set up to investigate and report at length on a specific topic. Such resulted in the founding of  MI5 and MI6 in 1909. Winston Churchill was a long-term member of the C.I.D. as Home Secretary in 1911 when plans were laid for the Navy to transport the B.E.F. to France in the advent of war; as First Lord of the Admiralty from 1911 to 1915, and as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the 1920s. The C.I.D. was effectively a defence planning system which continued in operation until the start of the Second World War. Accordingly it may be regarded as a forerunner of the present day Nation Security Council.
 

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